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Avatar for Chrisfigueroa521
Nov 12, 2017 11:31 PM CST
Harrisburg Pennsylvania
Hello everyone,

I am very new to gardening so I have some questions. At my home I have two big rock gardens, one of which wraps around to the side of the house with some shade. But both of them have a ton of sun in the front of the house. I want them to have some really nice colors. I saw Creeping Phlox which are gorgeous but they only bloom for about six weeks and I am looking for something that is just a nice looking but will last through summer... Not sure if such a thing exists but would like to get advice. Please keep in mind I am very new to this so hopefully it's nothing to complicated to get going.
Nov 13, 2017 1:30 AM CST
Name: Mary
Lake Stevens, WA (Zone 8a)
Near Seattle
Bookworm Garden Photography Region: Pacific Northwest Plays in the sandbox Seed Starter Plant and/or Seed Trader
Winter Sowing
Hi Chris!
I think you are in Zone 6, in Harrisburg. This is a hardiness zone from a map based on usual minimum temperatures. It is important because you can grow plants that someone in the mountains north of you (zone 5) cannot grow.
When people say "a rock garden" they usually think of low growing plants, like creeping phlox. You have found out what is the limitation of many perennial (come back every year) flowers, many bloom only a short time. Annuals do not live through winter, like petunias, and you have to plant them every year. However most annuals don't stop blooming until the cold weather comes. I came up with a few ideas of colorful perennial flowers that I think would do well there, and bloom for much of the summer.

Dianthus- three varieties for you (there are lots and some are tall and not easy) try 'Fire Witch' and 'Zing Rose'.
Stachys 'Hummelo'
Knautia 'Thunder and Lightening'
Aster 'Purple Dome' (many asters are too tall for a rock garden.
Daylily 'Stella D'Oro
Verbena 'Homestead Purple'
Veronica 'Giles van Hees'

The above are all "perennial" which means once you plant them, they come back every year, but the first year you might not get a lot of blooms. For a lot of color next year, go to Lowe's or any garden center, and buy a bunch of Portulaca starts, they are cheap and super colorful.

There is a great mail-order nursery in Ohio, called Bluestone Perennials. They have a nice website, probably carry all these perennials, and hundreds more. They have a plant-finding program you might enjoy now the weather is rotten. They also sell some 'pre-planned' garden collections you might look at.
Avatar for Chrisfigueroa521
Nov 13, 2017 7:11 AM CST
Harrisburg Pennsylvania
You are awesome pistil! Thank you very much for the information. I'm going to start looking into this so I have plans come spring time.

Again, thank you for all the information!
Nov 13, 2017 11:11 AM CST
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
One of my favorite 'bloom all summer' perennials is

Campanula cochleariifolia 'Bavaria Blue'

You might also want to plant a few evergreens so there is something other than sticks out there all winter.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Nov 13, 2017 12:57 PM CST
Name: Frenchy
Falls Church, VA (Zone 7b)
Region: Ukraine Tender Perennials Container Gardener Dog Lover Houseplants Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Tomato Heads Hostas Tropicals Annuals Foliage Fan Aroids
@Chrisfigueroa521 Welcome! . Sempervivums look good in rock gardens. They won't be blooming all summer but will give interest and color to the garden and they are cold tolerant in your area. They like sun best. Smiling
Nov 13, 2017 5:04 PM CST
Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario (Zone 5b)
Maintenance of Perennial Beds.
This article contains some great edging (= have to be more or less dwarf) perennials:

One of my favourite rock/alpine group of perennials is the gentians. A lot of them have very blue (i.e. "gentian blue") flowers.

Summer/into fall boomers which have done very well for us include:
Gentiana septemfida var. lagodechiana, which we've had for ten or more years
and G. paradoxa-Hybrid Blue Herald (= 'Blauer Herold'), which we've had for several years but which is looking like another real perennial survivor. These both have a trailing form.

Also once established, Gentian dahurica (including 'Nikita') is certainly very long-lived here, but is not as showy (smaller flower size) as the previous two.

One dwarf summer into fall bloomer, which has been really useful over recent years (e.g long-lived and easy to divide and move around) is the dwarf fleeceflower Persicaria affina Dimity (= 'Superba').
Avatar for Chrisfigueroa521
Nov 13, 2017 11:58 PM CST
Harrisburg Pennsylvania
This has been the most helpful forum I have ever been apart of. Now I have some decisions to make lol. I couldn't take looking at empty rock gardens anymore. Good thing is I have all winter to plan.
Nov 14, 2017 12:55 AM CST
Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Orchids Region: Pacific Northwest Region: Mexico Sedums Tropicals
It will be such fun planning these beds. As you choose your perennials, research their life expectancy. Some live quite a long time, and some are disappointingly short lived.

There are some gorgeous creeping ground covers that were put on this earth to meander thru a rock garden.

Creeping thyme is so lovely, as is Lithodora. I love the look and smell of Sweet William as long as it behaves. .

Just a pic for ideas.

Thumb of 2017-11-14/lauriebasler/1fd38a
Last edited by lauriebasler Nov 14, 2017 12:57 AM Icon for preview
Avatar for Chrisfigueroa521
Nov 14, 2017 3:36 PM CST
Harrisburg Pennsylvania
Great! Thank you, everyone, for the help. I was up late doing some planning lol
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